Eritrean migrants protest Negev detention center150.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Approximately 100 residents of south Tel Aviv and the Center for Israeli Migrant
Policy filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to block the
return of around 2,000 African migrants to their neighborhood from the Saharonim
detention facility in the South.
In mid-September, the High Court struck
down the government’s policy of keeping them in detention for up to three years
before deciding their status for remaining in the country.
ordered that all migrants either have their statuses decided upon within three
months or be released.
More recently, the government announced it had
released roughly a dozen migrants and that it might consider keeping many of the
others in a modified “open” detention facility for a period of one-and-a-half
But on Wednesday, a spokesman for the petitioners said that the
number of released migrants had reached 100 and could jump exponentially between
now and mid-December.
Trying to prevent a scenario in which a large
number or all of the migrants would be sent back to south Tel Aviv – as the
government had been doing before sending them to the detention center – the
petitioners hope that the court will either block the migrants’ release or at
least have them sent to other parts of the country.
The petitioners saw
strong sympathetic statements regarding their suffering by Supreme Court
Justices Edna Arbel and Uzi Vogelman as a sign of hope that the court would heed
Orli Yogir, director of the Center for Israeli Migrant
Policy, said that “there needs to be an end to the anarchy reigning over south
It can’t be that the result of the High Court decision, which
recognized the suffering of the south Tel Aviv residents, will be to cause
additional grave harm” to them.
The High Court ordered the state to
respond within two weeks.
The petition comes only days after a petition
was submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to compel the state
to release the majority of the migrants, complaining that so few had been
released to date and that the state is trying to find ways to keep them in
detention, even if it might be a modified “open” detention center.